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Lord of the Rings inspiration in the archives

  • 29th May 2013

Amongst our archives we hold a sales catalogue for a Tudor property known as Bag End, in the parish of Dormston. The sales catalogue dates from 1931.

Paul Hudson, Learning and Outreach Manager says: “I came across this sales catalogue a few years ago, shortly after seeing the final film in the Lord of the Rings series. The name immediately jumped out at me, and as I knew Tolkien had links with Birmingham and the West Midlands, I wondered if this is what gave the home of Bilbo Baggins its name.

A book has been written about Bag End exploring the links between this farm and Lord of the Rings. The author, Andrew Morton, used this catalogue as one of his sources and reproduced it in full. He discovered that the farm was owned by Tolkien’s aunt in the 1920s and was visited by the author on at least a couple of occasions. The name is probably all that was used, as the farm bears little resemblance otherwise to the Hobbit dwelling of the books.

Any sales catalogue can be a useful document, as it will give lots of information about a property. In some instances, where it is a larger property, it can include a map and photographs, as it does in this case. The descriptions can bring the house to life, as you can start reconstructing them room by room in your mind. Some of these are of use mainly to those who have a connection with the house, either as a family home or their current residence. However some have greater significance, and the sales catalogue for Witley Court has been used by historians as a key source for their research into the house and its former occupants.”

This item can be viewed in our Original Archives Area at The Hive and can be located at reference 705:358 BA5240/4a/299.

The book about Bag End can be found amongst our Local Studies library collection on Level 2 at The Hive under Andrew H Morton – Tolkien’s Bag End (2009), Brewin Books. – reference L728.80942.

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